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Bucs Wire staff picks for Tampa Bay’s NFC Divisional matchup against the Lions

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got a big win at home against the Philadelphia Eagles last Monday, but the odds are stacked against them heading into Sunday’s Divisional Round matchup against the Detroit Lions.

The Lions will be a far tougher test for Tampa Bay, who enter a Ford Field environment that quite literally hasn’t been present at that stadium for around 20 or so years. On top of that, the Lions are very healthy like the Bucs are and present a number of weapons, such as wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown and tight end Sam LaPorta. The Bucs can certainly take the win in Motor City, but if they are to do so, they’ll need to play almost perfect to get the win.

Our Bucs Wire staff makes our predictions every matchup, and while we’d love to see a win, all three of us aren’t holding out hope. Check out our predictions below:

River Wells, Site Editor

Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

This Bucs run has been incredibly impressive given the regular season we saw from them, but I think the team’s run will come to an end on Sunday. Tampa Bay executed well on all fronts in their 32-9 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, but that Philadelphia team was broken and beaten before they even hit the turf. The Lions, meanwhile, are far more likely to execute at all levels at a much higher hit rate and they’re far healthier to boot. Tampa Bay’s defense did good against the Eagles, but their secondary remains quite dreadful and Detroit simply has too many weapons to keep tabs on with a defense like that. The Bucs need to come out firing on offense and expose an equally-bad Lions secondary to have a shot here, but I’m not sure that will be easy with the blistering home-field advantage the Lions have. Bucs could keep this somewhat close, but I think the Lions will get the win in their den.

Lions 27, Bucs 17

Jason Kanno, Contributor

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucs’ second consecutive rematch in these playoffs is not likely to go as swimmingly as the first. In their Week 6 20-6 loss to the Lions, Tampa Bay looked out of its depth and began a nearly two-month spiral in which they lost six of seven games. Since then, the offense began showing signs of life, but signs of life are unlikely to be enough against arguably a top-3 offense. Their only real hope is that Jared Goff regresses to his 2021 self and gives the game away. Otherwise, all the blitzes and all the Mayfield moxie in the world are unlikely to keep up with the best Detroit team in decades.

Lions 31, Bucs 20

Luke Adragna, Contributor

Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll admit it. I doubted the Bucs last Sunday, and they completely proved me wrong. Tampa Bay fired on all cylinders from the opening kickoff. Baker Mayfield made all the right decisions, the offensive line held up well, and the Bucs defense never wavered, surrendering fewer than 330 yards (NFL average) for the fifth consecutive contest. Other than some drops by the offense, it was a clean game by Tampa Bay. However, Sunday is a totally different animal. The Bucs are tasked with facing arguably the hottest team in the NFL in the Detroit Lions. Winners of five (should be six) of their last seven games, the Lions host Tampa Bay in their own stomping grounds. Detroit embarrassed the Bucs in Week 6 and allowed just 251 total yards in a 20-6 victory. There are several adjustments the Bucs must make to advance to the NFC Championship, and if I’m Tampa Bay, that starts with eliminating the threat of Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown. The third-year receiver caught 12 of 15 targets for 124 yards and a touchdown in Week 6. His biggest contribution was continuing drives — He caught seven receptions for first downs throughout the game. Tampa Bay will also have to prepare for Detroit’s lethal run game that ranks fifth in the NFL. The Lions rushed for only 40 yards against Tampa Bay in Week 6, however, Detroit RB Jahmyr Gibbs was sidelined due to a hamstring injury and David Montgomery left in the second quarter with a rib injury. I think Mayfield can ride the momentum from last week, but the Lions’ abundance of offensive weapons will overwhelm Tampa Bay in a close finish.

Lions 31, Bucs 28

Story originally appeared on Buccaneers Wire